A while ago now I thoroughly enjoyed being introduced to the two volumes of Harry the Hypno-potamus : Metaphorical Tales and having the privilege of reviewing them. It is great to see that they have become best-sellers. A very well deserved accolade, I feel. I know that I have used the books with children and they have been both greatly helped by them but also highly delighted at their uniqueness and highly innovative delivery. A most definite hit.
New from the Linda Thomson stable is “ Harry the Hypno-potamus: Imagination Cards” which feature the various animals that were to be found in the zoo that formed the core of the books.
Animal pictures ? Fine. They are fun to see and every bit as engaging as the pictures we came to enjoy in the books BUT it does not stop there. The cards and their animals are being used with a clear aim in mind - to guide the children who use them to a better mastery of self-regulation skills which will help them in life.
Self-regulation skills ? These include mental imagery, breathing techniques, muscular relaxation techniques and ego-strengthening. All of them are child specific and fun to use and implement. In no instance will the child feel cornered or threatened but will be led to feel that s/he can have a real input into improving the way they feel and behave in life through learning the varied skills of self-regulation.
As an experienced primary school teacher, eleven years of which I served as a Head teacher, I feel that these cards can be an invaluable and exceedingly easy tool to use by teachers and children alike throughout the basic Junior age range of UK schools, 2nd - 5th grades of US schools. They need not be restricted to this age group as, with the correct supervision, I can see these being of use both above and below that stated age range.
I can see them being used easily in small groups within the classroom but feel that their effectiveness will be seen not only by educationalists but also by clinicians and therapists, parents and children themselves.
Each card introduces an element of self-regulatory technique and imaginative exploration, and the instructions are clear to follow. To start with I would certainly expect the use of the cards to be led by an adult but I feel in no time at all children will become sufficiently au fait with the cards and their instructions , that they can use them themselves with the adult there on the sidelines, as it were.
The card set comprises 52 traditional cards of the four suits and contain an animal picture and an instruction. As I have already stated these are easy to follow.
There are also four specifically designed games that one can use, full instructions included, with small groups of children.
I feel there is also scope for children here to design their own games, and I am sure that some will readily do this as, of course, may the teachers.
The working scope of the cards is as limited or expansive as the mind of the person introducing them.
So, I like the cards and I like the work that they have been designed to do. I see them being of great use in helping children self-regulate which is, after all, a vital skill in human development.
I do have one regret, however, and that is the size and packing of the product. I know only too well how frustrated children can get with packing and with small sized items.
Items can soon be torn and rendered useless in a very short time.
Small print, too, can be a major problem .
The size made is 6.5cm x 9.00cm and is on relatively thin card and in a flimsy box.
Although attractive I would say that this could and should be improved upon.
I would venture to suggest a size 9.00cm x 13cm on a far more substantial, laminated card and in a more sturdy box.
It may be more expensive in outlay but I am confident it would be cost effective for the purchaser and far more easy and clear to use for children.
All in all I feel this is an excellent extension of the Harry the Hypno-potamus duo of books and is a potentially very valuable aid in fostering the children's development.